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Muskoka Post Staff
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, is encouraging school boards to proceed with celebrations of student achievement but subject to health and safety limitations during Covid-19.
As has become custom with the Ford government the message was rather mixed as Lecce praised students for having worked "incredibly hard this school year" and although the government is "making great efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19, it may still be some time before schools and boards are able to offer the kinds of ceremonies and traditions in the same way they have in previous years."
Lecce went on to say that he has spoken with graduating students and parents which "moved" him to act.
" I firmly believe Ontario students deserve this positive conclusion to their academic journey, even if ceremonies are delayed," he said.
Lecce also said that he is encouraging school boards to reschedule grad ceremonies but based on the input from local medical officers of health.
"In some cases, this might mean facilitating graduation ceremonies and proms during the summer or fall when it is safe to do so," he said.
Trillium Lakelands District School Board director of education Larry Hope seems to have already expressed interest in graduation postponement as evident in a May 1 update letter Hope penned to parents.
"Given the precarious nature of large group gatherings, and our sense that we will not be in a position to facilitate large groups, we have had to make the very difficult decision to postpone all June graduations. We have not taken this decision lightly as we know how important the opportunity to celebrate our graduates is for all of us. We have asked our schools to work with their stakeholders to develop a plan to honour our students, and those plans will be developed over the coming weeks. This milestone is very important for our graduating students, and we will do what we can to ensure appropriate recognition on a school-by-school basis," wrote Hope.
Late to the party Lecce said today "that these are important events for all students and their families" and that he "expects boards to preserve these opportunities to proudly recognize the incredible success and achievement resulting from the hard work of our students."
The minister also noted how eager and flexible both students and parents in Ontario have been during the transition to Learn at Home.
"We know that the support of their parents and guardians has been critical in rapidly shifting toward a newer model of learning," Lecce said.
Hope seemed to have echoed a similar message of positivity toward the new way of learning in his letter to parents in which he stated and provided parental learn at home satisfaction stats from a recently conducted TLDSB survey.
"With regard to overall satisfaction with the online programs and tools, 68% of respondents indicated an overall level of satisfaction, 11% expressed dissatisfaction, and 20% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. When it came to the level of communication between home and school, 79% of respondents shared that they were satisfied, 7% were dissatisfied, and 13% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Finally, as it relates to the quantity of school work being provided to students, 65% indicated they were satisfied, 14% were dissatisfied, and 20% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Additionally, parents provided us with a number of written comments, which will help us with our continued planning," he wrote.
While the results were positive Hope noted that some refining still has to be done with the TDLSB Learning@Home "offerings."
"We need to continue to pay attention to the mental health and well being of our students and their families at this time, and we need to be mindful of the fact that our students are not all in the same place in terms of access to reliable internet or technology ... additionally, the whole notion of assessment and evaluation continues to be one of concern for parents and staff alike, in that we are continuing to seek solutions to fair and equitable evaluation of the work our students are doing remotely. As a system and individually, we are challenged by some of these variables, and we continue to search for best practices and consistency as much as we can," Hope said.
As of May 1 Hope confirmed that TLDSB at this time does not have an "assured" return date.